(a) The Chief Engineer shall co-operate with the Charterers’ bunkering agents and fuel suppliers during bunkering. Such cooperation shall include connecting/disconnecting hoses to the vessel’s bunker manifold, attending sampling, reading gauges or meters or taking soundings, before, during and/or after delivery of fuels.
(b) During bunkering a primary sample of each grade of fuels shall be drawn in accordance with IMO Resolution MEPC.182(59) Guidelines for the Sampling of Fuel Oil for Determination of Compliance with the Revised MARPOL 73/78 Annex VI or any subsequent amendments thereof. Each primary sample shall be divided into no fewer than seven (7) samples; one sample of each grade of fuel shall be retained on board for MARPOL purposes and the remaining samples of each grade distributed between the Owners, the Charterers and the bunker suppliers.
(c) The Charterers warrant that any bunker suppliers used by them to bunker the Vessel shall comply with the provisions of Sub-clause (b) above.
(d) Bunkers of different grades, specifications and/or suppliers shall be segregated into separate tanks within the Vessel’s natural segregation. The Owners shall not be held liable for any restriction in bunker capacity as a result of segregating bunkers as aforementioned.
In October 2009 BIMCO initiated a project to develop a suite of standard bunker clauses for use in time charter parties. The rationale behind developing the suite is simply to address the ever increasing importance of bunker issues in time charter parties and the need to ensure that the risk of bunker disputes is minimised by clearly worded clauses that reflect legislative developments. The Suite of Clauses was adopted by BIMCO’s Documentary Committee at its meeting in Vancouver in June 2011.
The Suite provides clauses covering matters relating to delivery/redelivery bunkers; bunkering operations; sampling; fuel testing programmes; and ECA trading, all of which are matters that are frequently absent from or insufficient in many standard time charter parties. Many older time charter forms contain bunker clauses covering the fundamental principles under the charter, but simply do not contemplate today’s situation where vessels are required to carry and use several grades of fuel and where sampling and testing regimes are an integral part of the process.
It is not the intention that BIMCO’s Suite of Bunker Clauses should be a direct replacement for the existing bunker clauses in a time charter - there is, for example, no intention to deal with the actual pricing or quantities of bunkers, as this will already be dealt with. What the Suite offers is a means of supplementing standard time charters with bunker provisions that are missing or poorly worded. Each clause within the Suite is designed to be self-standing and independent of the other clauses in the Suite. As always, users should be careful when incorporating any additional clauses so that the new clauses do not conflict with existing provisions.
The current suite of standard bunker clauses for use in time charter parties consists of:
The following explanatory notes provide some background to the thinking behind the bunkering operations and sampling clause.
Sub-clause (a) sets out the co-operation between the ship’s personnel and the charterers’ bunkering agent and supplier prior to, during and after delivery of fuels to the vessel.
Sub-clause (b) deals with bunker sampling – on which most standard forms of time charter party are silent. The provision requires a sample to be taken of each grade of fuel (a “primary sample”) delivered. The sampling procedure is to be conducted in accordance with MARPOL Annex VI Guidelines for the Sampling of Fuel Oil. The reason the Clause refers to the Guidelines is because it is an established procedure and its incorporation by reference avoids having a very long provision detailing sampling procedures.
The “primary sample” is to be sub-divided into a minimum of seven representative sub-samples to be taken from each grade of fuel loaded: one mandatory MARPOL sample and two samples each for the owners, the charterers and the bunker suppliers. The minimum number of samples has been chosen to reflect prudent commercial practice although it is acknowledged that in some cases more samples will be taken.
In terms of the location of the sampling point, it is BIMCO’s view that what is of vital importance is that sampling is done by drip feed during the bunkering operation; it is of less importance whether the sampling point is at the ship’s or the barge’s manifold.
Sub-clause (c) requires the charterers to warrant that the bunker suppliers they engage will comply with the MARPOL sampling procedures when delivering bunkers – which, if the bunker supplier is located in a MARPOL signatory State is, in any event, a mandatory requirement for the supplier.
Sub-clause (d) deals with the loading of different grades and specifications of bunkers into segregated tanks on board the vessel. The segregation also includes separating fuel supplied by different suppliers, even if purportedly of the same grade and specification as other suppliers. Bunkers are to be segregated within the vessel’s natural segregation even if this process results in a reduction in the vessel’s overall bunker capacity.
Originally published in BIMCO Special Circular No. 4, 4 November 2011 (Updated 25 June 2014) - BIMCO Suite of Bunker Clauses for Time Charter Parties
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